On Sunday, a woman was out for a swim in Boca Raton, Florida, when she caught a fish in a most unconventional way. A shark bit her on her right forearm and ended up accompanying her all the way to the hospital - still attached to her arm. The shark in question was a small nurse shark that is said to have been about two-feet in length.
The 23-year-old woman shocked the staff at the hospital when she showed up on Sunday afternoon with a shark attached to her arm, and according to Ocean Rescue Capt. Clint Tracy, a spokesman for Boca Raton Ocean Rescue, it was quite a unique situation. Both the woman and the shark attached to her were transported to the hospital via an ambulance from Red Reef Park at about 1:30 p.m.
"I have never seen anything like it. Never even heard of anything like this."Tracy did go on to admire the calm with which the woman operated, saying that there was also only a small amount of blood drawn so perhaps that helped the situation. The small size of the shark and the utter novelty of the situation may have been a factor too. For transportation purposes, the woman's arm and its shark were supported by a splint board while she was made to lay on a stretcher.
The name of the woman who was bitten by the shark has not been released, but according to WPTV, the fire-rescue team who responded to the scene at Lifeguard Tower 8 at 1400 N. Ocean Blvd at around 1:20 p.m., said that the two-foot nurse shark attached to the 23-year-old's right forearm had been killed prior to their response. Fire-rescue spokesman Bob Lemons said that the shark had been killed by a bystander at the beach.
The unidentified 23-year-old woman has been admitted to Boca Regional Hospital and is in stable condition. Photographs were provided to the fire-rescue team, taken by a bystander, and show that the injuries inflicted by the toothy fish when it bit her, and was attached to her arm, appear to be minor.
Research has shown that nurse sharks are actually quite common offshore Florida waters and have the capacity to grow up to 14-feet in length. These sharks are often seen stationary on the ocean floor, able to breathe without moving by pumping water in through their mouths and out through their gills. Nurse sharks are also known for their strong jaws, filled with thousands of tiny, razor-sharp teeth.
Provocation may have been the reason why the shark bit the woman's arm in this case. In fact, according to the Sun Sentinel, an 11-year-old Boca Raton boy who was snorkeling in the area says that he saw someone "holding the shark by its tail. They were messing with it." The sentiments surrounding the shark is that "it wouldn't bite them if they hadn't been messing with it."
The National Park Service released a statement which supports the sentiments of aggravated attacks by these nurse sharks.
"Knowingly or not, people swim near nurse sharks every day without incident. Attacks on humans are rare but not unknown and a clamping bite typically results from a diver or fisherman antagonizing the shark with hook, spear, net, or hand.[Photo Courtesy of Boca Raton Fire Rescue]
"Holding still reduces damage to both shark and man. Leaving sharks alone is the best tactic."